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baggage in a hat

Almost exactly 10 years ago, I made my first visit to Boston. I think it must have been Super Bowl weekend (so it was actually a little later in January), because I remember watching the Steelers play the Cowboys in my hotel room. (But the Steelers played today, and so that's still kind of a valid point of similarity.)

The weather then was just like the weather now: warm and rainy followed in the space of a couple hours by a quick switch to brutally cold. This is a weather pattern that Boston seems to specialize in. We're close to the water, and can be affected by warm rainmakers from further south, pushing tropical moisture ahead of them. But the cruel joke is that they then pull in Arctic air behind them as they wander away east of Nantucket. Two inches of rain in a 12 hours, and you think it's spring; 12 hours after that, everything is frozen solid, and the wind is whipping sand in your eyes. Which, oddly, doesn't feel quite as bad as the frostbite.

Now, I don't really like hats. They lead to Hat Head, among other things. I know they're good for keeping heat in and keeping ears warm. And I will fight to the death to protect other people's rights to wear them. But I don't wear them often, and I certainly don't travel with them (from North Carolina, in this case) just in case I'm going to need one during a 3 day visit. But, on that trip to Boston in 96, once it stopped raining, I had to buy a hat. HAD to. It was fucking cold, and at the time I was a country boy in the big city, and needed a hat to keep warm. So I went to City Sports and bought a hat. Dark blue, polypropylene fleece skullcap. Not extravagantly warm, but a definite improvement over not having one.

I still have that same hat. I only wear winter hats a couple times a year, but that's typically the one I wear (though I have an extremely wonderful hat that my grandfather picked up for me back then, in Norway, when he'd driven above the Arctic Circle; I sometimes wear that, depending on how "jaunty" I want to be or how little I care about "accesorizing," depending on one's perspective). The point, then, is that it has to be really cold for me to wear a hat. And that weekend, it was.

Just like today. I had to go get something from the car this afternoon, and when I saw how cold it was, I bundled up a bit, and reached for The Hat. I put it on, and off I went. It was cold, alright; in the teens, just like when I'd bought the damn thing in the first place. And windy (ditto). I trundled there and back, and returned, freezing despite the hat.

And amid the biting blasts, I got to thinking about how similar the circumstances are, and yet how different. So much has happened in 10 years, and then so little. This sounds idiotic, because that's what happens: things change AND they stay the same. But if you had told me then that the hat would be one of the things I'd still have 10 years later, I would have told you you were crazy. So, the hat has become more than a hat; it grew quotation marks, became weightier, became a "hat."

I've certainly come to realize there's WAAY more left lying around from that time than just the "hat," some of it welcome, lots of it not. And, of course, I've added to the "hat" since then too, sclerotically accumulating and blocking...

I did not expect the ensuing changes since that weekend visit to Boston in 1996. And I did not expect the permeating stasis. And given both, it's hard not to look around (figuratively) and wish that the "hat" was the only thing leftover from that time. Because if any of it went, why didn't all of it go? How does a hat survive, like a leaf stuck on a tree during a January gale?

Comments (3)

This vignette reminds me of how precious and confusing life is.

You can say that again. And one might need to, on account of how nobody ever seems to realize it the first few times.


Oh man... i don't know what to say. This made me feel old, and alive.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on 2006-01-15 at 21:59.

The previous post in this blog was winter plumage Veloce (part II).

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